Liddle & Robinson Attorneys at Law New York City

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Thys v. Fortis - 6/15/2010

Details: In Thys v. Fortis, the Appellate Division, First Department reinstated a claim of conversion of money for L&R's client against Fortis Bank.

On June 15, 2010, the New York Appellate Division, First Department, reversed the trial court’s order and reinstated the claim for conversion asserted by L&R’s client Jacques Thys against his former employer, Fortis Bank NV. From September 2000 until April 2006, Thys served as Fortis’ US Country Manager for Banking Operations. For 2005, Fortis announced that Thys would be paid bonus totaling €375,000. As an expatriate, Thys had the right under his arrangements with the firm to take his bonus in either dollars or euros. Thys had chosen to be paid in euros. Nonetheless, on or around April 14, 2006, Fortis paid Thys $198,230.73, net of taxes. At that time (i.e., April 14, 2006), under the prevailing exchange rate, €375,000 was the equivalent of $454,105.11. The net payment in $US dollars of $198,230.73 was less than what Thys would have received in euros had the bonus been paid in euros (even taking into account tax withholdings).

After discussing the issue with Fortis, Thys agreed to return the money he had been paid, on the express understanding that Fortis would replace that amount, plus provide him with additional amounts (all in euros), to bring his payment up to the full €375,000 that had been awarded to him. In spite of this understanding, after Thys returned $192,000 to Fortis (taking into account reimbursement for expenses totaling $6,230.73 that the parties at that time thought, incorrectly as it turns out, Fortis owed to Thys), Fortis kept, without having secured Thys’ permission, all the money that Thys had returned and never paid him back anything. The First Department held, in reversing the lower court, that Thys had properly pleaded a claim for conversion of money under New York common law.

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